On silent summer evenings,
I can track the slugs by sound,
their small mouths chewing.
I can hear a leaf unfurling.
did he think I wouldn’t notice?
I count them. Every leaf, each day.
I set my traps and cantrips for the rabbits.
This is my kingdom, and I will defend it.
my poor pea stems crushed, his ugly footprints in my carrot bed
Of course I noticed. I’m no fool.
I waited for him. Caught him tearing leaves
so careless. He should have plucked them tenderly
He pleaded his wife’s belly. Like I’d care
some slack-jawed slattern, carrying a wailing brat.
These people have more mouths than they can feed
always held open, sucking air, food, ale,
or talking. They don’t stop to listen.
Then for a moment, I imagined
slim fingers plucking slugs and salting them,
or stained from crushing caterpillars –
a fine flash of golden hair
chasing the pigeons through the raspberry canes,
an arm arched back to throw a stone
at greedy rabbits, or marauding cats.
I offered him a bargain.
Life for life. The seed still sprouting
in the darkness, for my green children,
reaching for the sun. An apprentice.
I will teach her the slow, quiet joys
of shoot, and sprout and leaf
the gentle silence of the sunset,
the dark secrets of the midnight herbal.
I will build a tower, and keep her
from this world of dirt, and brawls,
and grubby laundry, and cheap bread.
I’ll build a tower for her,
and brush her golden hair.
If it’s a boy, I’ll sell it.
Today marks the halfway point of this year’s Na/GloPoWriMo! It’s been great to see how many of you have kept up with the project this year. Hooray for poems!
Our featured participant today is ivoryfishbone, where the dream poem for Day Fourteen takes a fantastic, yet sinister turn.
We have a new interview for you today, this time with Sarah Blake, whose second full-length book of poetry, Let’s Not Live on Earth, is newly out from Wesleyan University Press. Blake’s first book of poetry, Mr. West, was also published by Wesleyan, and her debut novel, Naamah, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. You can read several of Blake’s poems here, and our interview with her here.
And now for our prompt (optional, as always). In her interview, Blake suggests writing a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil). Perhaps this could mean the witch from Hansel & Gretel has lost her beloved cat, and is going about the neighborhood sticking up heart-wrenching “Lost Cat” signs, but still finds human children delicious. Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate is lost at sea in an open boat, remembering how much he loved his grandmother (although he will still kill the first person dumb enough to scoop him from the waves).